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The Future of Grassroots Music Venues

We talked to leading figures about ‘The Future of Grassroots Music Venues’ at The Great Escape 2015.

We talked to leading figures about ‘The Future of Grassroots Music Venues’ at this year’s The Great Escape festival in Brighton. Chaired by the MU’s Assistant General Secretary Horace Trubridge, the panel featured singer/songwriter Tom Hingley, CEO of the Music Venue Trust Mark Davyd, Kerry McCarthy MP, Owner of The Cellars at Eastney Steve Pitt and singer/songwriter Samantha Whates.

What’s happening to local venues right now?  Small venues are under real pressure as a result of both the economics of their situation, and the impact of increasing housing levels in areas around these venues, said Mark Davyd. Kerry McCarthy MP agreed and the entire panel believes that the Agent of Change Principle should be made law. It would make developers responsible for soundproofing their developments, because they created the change – so venues would be protected.

Why are smaller venues necessary to the music scene? Tom Hingley talked about how smaller venues give bands a chance to not just learn the ropes, but spread their wings. Missing out playing venues of this size means that bands can be placed in situations that they don’t have the experience to make the most of, added Steve Pitt.

What can be done to improve the situation? Samantha Whates spoke about pop-up gigs she’s played in various places such as launderettes. These can have an impromptu feel that people seem to really respond to. Steve called on the Government to recognise that culture didn’t stop in 1910. Live gigs in smaller venues have been a vital part of the culture of our country for decades and that mustn’t be allowed to die away.

What would help most? All the panellists agreed that the tax breaks recently given to orchestras and the film industry have been a real help. Extending them to smaller venues could mean the difference between survival and closure. And of course, the Agent of Change Principle.

Is a venue near you under threat? Tell us about it – contact your Regional Office or tweet us @WeAreTheMU.
Published: 12/06/2015

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